Celebrating Feminists’ Voices, Inspiring Global Peace

Women Coffee Farmers Build Peace, One Coffee Bean at a Time

30 June 2017

(Versión en español abajo)

“Oh! It is a very delicious product, it has been made with lots of love!” is what Mrs. Fulbia says regarding the coffee she harvests. “Colombian coffee is the best coffee, it tastes of caramel, of fruit!” says Mrs. Luz.

Fulbia and Luz, along with 300 women partners, are a part of the seven women associations that are subscribed to the project “Women coffee farmers build peace in three regions affected by conflict in Colombia.” This is an initiative from the Colombian Section of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (LIMPAL Colombia), an organization that promotes and defends women’s human rights, primarily those of women who have been victims of armed conflict. Thus, LIMPAL Colombia contributes to the building of a society based on peace, freedom, equality, and social justice.

As a country, Colombia is the third biggest producer of coffee in the world and the biggest producer of Soft Arabica Washed, one of the most appreciated beans worldwide. Just alone in 2015, exports of raw, unroasted beans added up to a total of 12.7 million sacks, with 60 kg each. Colombian coffee, like that being cultivated by these women, is appreciated worldwide for its attributes: mild, crisp cup, relative high acidity, aromatic, and has a sensorial profile of high quality.

Coffee is Colombia’s Gold

The labor of these brave women contributes also to building and promoting peace with a gendered perspective in three coffee-growing regions in Colombia: Huila, Tolima and Caquetá. These seven associations of women coffee farmers and their 300 women partners are a part of the 2.7 million people who depend directly or indirectly from coffee cultivation; that is, 33% of rural population in Colombia, according to official numbers. Currently, 726 million jobs derive directly from coffee cultivation, 32% of agricultural employment in Colombia.

There is a great deal of customs, beliefs, tastes for flavors and aromas that surround coffee; there is moreover a grand tradition that has made women coffee farmers’ hard labor visible over time in this important line of work. Either through family tradition or through their spouses, these women work the production line of coffee and throughout empower themselves, reduce gender-based violence, and learn to defend and exercise their rights as women as well as coffee farmers.

While holding a hot cup of coffee in her hard-working hands and with a contagious smile on her face, Mrs. Nelcy says: “I want all the world to try this coffee, that everybody knows that this coffee is Colombia’s gold.”

Empowerment is the key word

This initiative by LIMPAL Colombia is supported by the United States Department of State (USDS); by subscribing to it, these women are being trained to certify themselves as Fair Tradeâ producers and their product according to the requirements of the Organic Seal of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Thus, they are strengthening their capacities as produces and receiving support in order to obtain a better retribution for their product. Within this process, they are also learning about Colombian legislation regarding women’s human rights issues such as prevention and sanctions against forms of violence and discrimination against women (Law 1257 of 2008), measures of access to justice for victims of conflict-related sexual violence (Law 1719 of 2014), and women’s participation in peacebuilding (UN Security Council Resolution 1325 of 2000 on “Women, Peace and Security”).

Thus, the project “Women coffee farmers build peace in three regions affected by conflict in Colombia” begets a wager upon the construction of a sustainable, lasting peace; one that is inclusive and comprehensive of women’s experiences and needs. Hence, the economic empowerment of women gives them the opportunity to advance innovation in coffee cultivation and show to the world their capacities and their vision for the future. They open pathways and widen their participation in a sector that has been mainly dominated by men. And not only that, but they garner tools and strategies to prevent and report violence against women.

With this experience, they have achieved expanding their opportunities to other women, so that they can also provide a dignified life free of violence for themselves and their families. “By cultivating coffee I could afford education for my children and, now that they are all grown up, I can live from my earnings” states Mrs. Nelcy, beaming proud of the fact that she has made her dreams come true. Throughout their different activities in diverse settings, women coffee farmers mention their ambition to expand the opportunities they could generate to further countrywomen: on one hand, coffee cultivation as a response to new peace stages; and on the other hand, the possibility of finding new pathways toward economic independence, as well as empower their roles in zones once reigned by conflict.

“In order for my children and myself to get by, I used to grow poppy” commented one of these women, and continued “now I am happier growing coffee because we even get financial support and education. Now we are entrepreneurs and can reach many different countries.”

So, this intervention generates a solidarity network among women participants. Many of them have been direct victims of armed conflict, or have been indeed combatants in it during the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Even though this project, by women and for women, is only in its initial phase, it has already achieved offering a line of work that is empowering, both economically and in their rights. In this way they are able to develop their life projects in freedom and building peace one coffee bean at a time.

“Being a woman coffee farmer means being an entrepreneur,” says Mrs. Luz. The livelihood attained through coffee cultivation has made it possible for them to harness a home, stability and education for their children and themselves.

Building capacities

There can always be more participative spaces in these regions. This group of women continues its process, growing and engaging more women. Many of them work to widen their productive capacity and participate in further stages of coffee production, “I would like to invest in my own coffee dryer” says Mrs. Olivia.

An important part of this project -one our readers can actively contribute to- is helping these women coffee farmers achieve the opportunity to participate in the 5th International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) in Mexico. The objective of this annual convention is building the capacities of women as part of the international coffee community in order to achieve significant and sustainable lives, thus fostering women’s participation in all aspects of the coffee industry. This convention will take place from the 3rd until the 5th of August 2017 in Puebla, Mexico. Please check out our crowdfunding campaign and help them go there!

Finally, Colombian coffee is recognized worldwide for its taste and aroma, but also for the hard labor of men and women who, with love and devotion, specialize in every link along the production chain of coffee beans. Today, this project exposes to the world the capacity of these women, who were once victims of armed conflict in three regions of Colombia. Their labor and zest for coffee has made it possible for them to recuperate their lives, have hope and contribute to peace. As women coffee growers, they are empowered to uphold their rights.



Mujeres aportan un grano de café a la paz

“Ay, ¡es un producto muy delicioso, hecho con mucho amor!” es lo que doña Fulbia dice al respecto del café que cosecha. “El café colombiano es el mejor café, ¡sabe a caramelo, sabe a fruta!” afirma doña Luz.

Fulbia y Luz, junto a 300 mujeres, hacen parte de las siete asociaciones de mujeres cafeteras suscritas al proyecto “Mujeres productoras de café construyen paz en tres regiones afectadas de Colombia”. Esta es una iniciativa de la Liga Internacional de Mujeres por la Paz y la Libertad -LIMPAL Colombia, organización que promueve y defiende los derechos humanos de las mujeres, principalmente aquellas víctimas del conflicto armado, contribuyendo a la construcción de una sociedad basada en la paz, libertad, igualdad y justicia social.

Colombia es el tercer país productor de café en el mundo y el mayor productor de Arábica Suave Lavado[1] uno de los granos más apreciados a nivel mundial. Solamente en 2015 se exportaron más de 12.7 millones de sacos de grano verde de café, con 60 kg cada uno[2]. El café colombiano, como el que cultivan estas mujeres, es reconocido por sus atributos: es suave, de taza limpia, acidez relativamente alta, aromático y un perfil sensorial de alta calidad.

El trabajo realizado por estas aguerridas mujeres contribuye además a construir y fomentar la paz con perspectiva de género en tres regiones cafeteras del territorio colombiano: Huila, Tolima y Caquetá. Estas 7 asociaciones de mujeres caficultoras y sus 300 asociadas son parte de los 2.7 millones de personas que dependen directamente del cultivo del café. Es decir, 33% de la población rural colombiana, según cifras oficiales[3]. Actualmente, 726 mil empleos se derivan directamente del cultivo del café, es decir 32% del empleo agrícola en Colombia[4].

En torno al café se forjan costumbres, creencias, gustos por los sabores y aromas y toda una tradición que, con el paso del tiempo, ha permitido visibilizar el arduo trabajo de la mujer cafetera en esta importante labor. Ya sea por tradición familiar o por trabajo de sus parejas, estas mujeres a través de la cadena productiva del café se empoderan, reducen la violencia de género, aprenden a defender y a ejercer sus derechos como mujeres y como caficultoras.

Así lo expresa la señora Nelcy quien, con una taza caliente de café en sus manos, manos trabajadoras y con una sonrisa contagiosa expresa: “Yo quiero que todo el mundo pruebe este café, que sepan que este café es el oro de Colombia”.

Al sumarse a la iniciativa de LIMPAL Colombia, apoyada por el Departamento de Estado de los Estados Unidos, estas mujeres se están capacitando para certificarse en Comercio Justo (Fair TradeÒ) y en producto orgánico con el sello del Departamento de Agricultura (USDA por sus siglas en inglés), fortaleciendo sus capacidades como productoras, recibiendo acompañamiento para que obtengan mejor retribución en la venta de su grano. En este proceso, ellas también están aprendiendo sobre legislación colombiana en temas de derechos de las mujeres, prevención y sanción de formas de violencia y discriminación contra las mujeres (Ley 1257 del 2008), medidas de acceso a la justicia para las víctimas de violencia sexual en el marco del conflicto armado (Ley 1719 de 2014) y participación de las mujeres en la construcción de la paz (Resolución 1325 de 2000 del Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU sobre “Mujer, paz y seguridad”).

Así, el proyecto “Mujeres productoras de café construyen paz en tres regiones afectadas de Colombia” se convierte en una apuesta a la construcción de una paz sostenible, duradera, incluyente de las mujeres y comprehensiva a sus experiencias y necesidades, ya que mediante el empoderamiento económico de las mujeres, ellas no sólo pueden avanzar en innovar la práctica del cultivo del café, mostrando al mundo sus capacidades y su visión de futuro, abriendo camino y ampliando su participación en un sector que ha sido mayoritariamente dominado por los hombres, sino que aprenden herramientas y estrategias de prevención y denuncia de la violencia contra las mujeres.

Con esta experiencia, se lograron expandir las oportunidades de estas mujeres, de manera que puedan proveer una vida digna y libre de violencia para ellas mismas y sus familias. “Cultivando café, le pude dar educación a mis hijos y ahora que son grandes vivo de lo que gano” dice doña Nelcy en medio del orgullo de ver sus sueños hechos realidad y con la certeza de que su trabajo es recompensado. Durante el desarrollo de las diferentes actividades las mujeres cafeteras, en diferentes escenarios, mencionan su ambición de extender las oportunidades que ellas han tenido a otras mujeres campesinas. Por una parte, el cultivo del café como respuesta a nuevos escenarios de paz y por otra, la posibilidad de encontrar caminos de independencia económica y empoderar su papel en estas zonas que algún día estuvieron bañadas por el conflicto.

“Para salir adelante con mis hijos, yo incluso llegué a sembrar amapola” comentó una de ellas y continuó “(…) ahora con el café estoy más contenta porque hasta recibimos apoyos financieros y educación. (…) Ahora somos mujeres emprendedoras y podemos llegar a muchos países”.

Se genera entonces, a través de esta intervención, una red de solidaridad entre las mujeres participantes. Muchas de ellas han sido víctimas directas o indirectas del conflicto armado o fueron incluso combatientes en el mismo en las décadas de los ochentas y noventas.

Aún en sus fases iniciales, este proyecto por mujeres y para mujeres, ha logrado ofrecer una línea de trabajo de empoderamiento económico y en derechos, para que ellas puedan desarrollar sus proyectos de vida en libertad, aportando un grano de café a la paz.

“Ser mujer cafetera significa ser emprendedora”, dice doña Luz. El sustento que logran con el cultivo del café les ha permitido dar hogar, estabilidad y educación a sus hijos y a ellas mismas.

Y aunque se pueden generar más espacios participativos en estas zonas, este grupo de mujeres continúa con su proceso, creciendo y atrayendo a más mujeres. Muchas de ellas trabajando para ampliar su capacidad productiva y participar en otros aspectos de la producción, “yo quiero invertir en mi propio secadero”, menciona doña Olivia.

Parte importante del proyecto, en la cual nuestros lectores pueden contribuir activamente es ayudar a estas mujeres a tener la oportunidad de participar en la V Convención de la Alianza Internacional de Mujeres del Café (-IWCA por sus siglas en inglés) en México. Esta convención anual tiene por objeto capacitar a las mujeres en la comunidad internacional del café para lograr vidas significativas y sostenibles; y alentar la participación de la mujer en todos los aspectos de la industria del café. Esta convención se llevará a cabo los días 3, 4 y 5 de agosto de 2017 en Puebla, México. Para apoyarlas, ingresa a la campaña de crowdfunding aquí: http://littlebigmoney.org/es/limpalcolombia#about. ¡Ayúdales a llegar allá!

Finalmente, el café colombiano es reconocido por su sabor y aroma, por el trabajo de hombres y mujeres que con amor y entrega se especializan en cada eslabón de la cadena productiva del grano. Hoy, este proyecto expone al mundo entero la capacidad de mujeres productoras, víctimas del conflicto armado de tres zonas del territorio colombiano, quienes con su trabajo y gusto por el café lograron recuperar sus vidas, tener esperanza y contribuir a la construcción de paz, empoderándose como mujeres productoras de café que defienden sus derechos.

[1] Fuente: Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia (2015), Última consulta: 15 de abr. de 2017 https://federaciondecafeteros.org/particulares/es/quienes_somos/119_estadisticas_historicas/

[2] Fuente: Organización Internacional del Café (2017), Última consulta: 20 de abr. De 2017 https://infogr.am/_/27Blb6ddDvHnRAVT1AKy

[3] Fuente: Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia (2015), Última consulta: 15 de abr. de 2017 https://federaciondecafeteros.org/particulares/es/quienes_somos/119_estadisticas_historicas/

[4] Fuente: Informe del 83 Congreso Nacional de Cafeteros (2016) https://federaciondecafeteros.org/static/files/PeriodicoIGG2016.pdf

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Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

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WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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